Across the meiotic divide - CSF activity in the post-Emi2/XErp1 era.

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2008-11-01

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Abstract

Vertebrate eggs are arrested at the metaphase stage of meiosis II. Only upon fertilization will the metaphase-II-arrested eggs exit meiosis II and enter interphase. In 1971, Masui and Markert injected egg extracts into a two-cell-stage embryo and found that the injected blastomere arrested at the next mitosis. On the basis of these observations, they proposed the existence of an activity present in the eggs that is responsible for meiosis-II arrest and can induce mitotic arrest, and named this activity cytostatic factor (CSF). Although the existence of CSF was hypothesized more than 35 years ago, its precise identity remained unclear until recently. The discovery of the Mos-MAPK pathway and characterization of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) as a central regulator of M-phase exit provided the framework for a molecular understanding of CSF. These pathways have now been linked by the discovery and characterization of the protein Emi2, a meiotic APC/C inhibitor, the activity and stability of which are controlled by the Mos-MAPK pathway. Continued investigation into the mechanism of action and mode of regulation of Emi2 promises to shed light not only on CSF function, but also on the general principles of APC/C regulation and the control of protein function by MAPK pathways.

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10.1242/jcs.036855

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Wu, Judy Qiju, and Sally Kornbluth (2008). Across the meiotic divide - CSF activity in the post-Emi2/XErp1 era. J Cell Sci, 121(Pt 21). pp. 3509–3514. 10.1242/jcs.036855 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8390.

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Scholars@Duke

Kornbluth

Sally A. Kornbluth

Jo Rae Wright University Distinguished Professor Emerita

Our lab studies the regulation of complex cellular processes, including cell cycle progression and programmed cell death (apoptosis). These tightly orchestrated processes are critical for appropriate cell proliferation and cell death, and when they go awry can result in cancer and degenerative disorders. Within these larger fields, we have focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms that prevent the onset of mitosis prior to the completion of DNA replication, the processes that prevent cell division when the mitotic spindle is disrupted, the signaling pathways that prevent apoptotic cell death in cancer cells and the mechanisms that link cell metabolism to cell death and survival.

In our quest to answer these important cell biological and biochemical questions, we are varied in our use of experimental systems.   Traditionally, we have used cell-free extracts prepared from eggs of the frog Xenopus laevis which can recapitulate cell cycle events and apoptotic processes in vitro. For the study of cell cycle events, extracts are prepared which can undergo multiple rounds of DNA replication and mitosis in vitro. Progression through the cell cycle can be monitored by microscopic observation of nuclear morphology and by biochemically assaying the activity of serine/threonine kinases which control cell cycle transitions.

For the study of apoptosis, modifications in extract preparation have allowed us to produce extracts which can apoptotically fragment nuclei and can accurately reproduce the biochemical events of apoptosis, including internucleosomal DNA cleavage and activation of apoptotic proteases, the caspases.

More recently, we have focused on studying apoptosis and cell cycle progression in mammalian models, both tissue culture cells and mouse models of cancer.  In these studies, we are trying to determine the precise signaling mechanisms used by cancer cells to accelerate proliferation and evade apoptotic cell death mechanisms.   We also endeavor to subvert these mechanisms to therapeutic advantage.   We are particularly interested in links between metabolism and cell death, as high metabolic rates in cancer cells appear to suppress apoptosis to evade chemotherapy-induced cell death.

Finally, we also have several projects using the facile genetics of Drosophila melanogaster to further understand links between metabolism and cell death and also the ways in which mitochondrial dynamics are linked to apoptotic pathways.


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